Friday, March 21, 2008

Wet or dry?

Northern lights over Flatrock
copyright Jeanette Jobson

About once or twice a year, we see the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis). Its not the spectacular light show that is seen further north, but it is amazing as shades of red and green ripple across the night sky. I tried taking a photo of it but I hadn't used a tripod so the result isn't that impressive. However, it does give you an idea of what it looks like.

The local art association is holding a one day spring exhibition and sale of work on March 30th and I'm trying to decide what I'll put it, framing etc. and all the usual flurry that goes beforehand. I'm getting a bit better at preparing in advance, but there is usually something going wrong the night before or morning of the exhibition.

I have been lucky with the exhibitions I have participated in this year and have sold pieces or had interest for commissions out of them. My love is graphite and I find there is a niche market for that medium that is a bit tricky to access. There is the thought by many that pencil drawings aren't in the same league as paintings. In the same way, there is a thought that relegates all forms of painting as amateurish unless it is oils. I so wish subjects and mediums could be appreciated for their own appeal and not compared to other types. There is such snob appeal in art, it frustrates me a lot at times.

My other love is coloured pencil and that is a relatively new medium. While growing in strength through public exposure and acceptance, there are still quarters who look on CP as a medium for children or amateurs. All we can keep doing is educating people about art and the various supports and mediums available and showing them how they can be used.

Tradition is difficult to change and there will always be the 'painting over dry media' camp and vice versa. My point is that neither are superior or inferior than the other. Simply different.

I like dry media for convenience of use. There's little set up or clean up, they're portable, reasonably priced and they provide me with challenges to achieve the same values and colour ranges as other media do.

Which camp are you in? Wet or dry?


Marsha Robinett said...

Thanks for bringing this issue to the forefront. As a pencil artist I have also experienced the same issues. It's a shame...I believe all art should have the right to stand on it's own merit. Yet, I feel the snob appeal you spoke of will always be with us.

I occasionally incorporate some watercolor into my drawings but have to say that in the end I'm in the "dry camp"!...for all the reasons you mentioned.

Sydney said...

Usually I prefer wet. I just like the feel of the brush. Lately though I've been using dry. I think it's mostly for the convenience reason. Things have been hectic for me lately. I have very little experience with colored pencils and the ones I have aren't even that good, but I'm enjoying the challenge.

S.G. Chipman said...

Definitely dry.

I spent a lot of time years ago with oils (and really loved them), but I just don't have the time for them now. Between work, kids and whatever else I'm only able to fit in an hour here and there for art, and dry media just suits that better.

Time lost to cleaning brushes (and my hands) is spent drawing, and no cadmium/titanium/cobalt seeping into my bloodstream is always a plus, too!

As for the media snobs - if someone wants to call my piece less important because it wasn't created with pigmented oil applied to a canvas with the hair of a small carnivorous mammal... quite frankly they can kiss my ass. :)

It's the resulting piece that speaks to the viewer in the end, and its up to the artist to have that piece transcend medium to get its message across. If someone is that hung up on what created the piece, they'll never get it anyway and aren't worth the effort.

My 2¢.

Rose Welty said...

My experience is all in dry media, I've never had time to use anything but the convenient that can be picked up, put down, and carried to the couch.

So, I prefer dry, but I agree that wet has an appeal to many people. Once they start getting CP works into museums (in the painting category instead of the drawing category), we'll get more respect.

I've been reading about Holbein lately, he has some tremendous drawings done in chalk that look like CP works. So much so that I had to do a copy in CPs - very interesting. Honestly, I almost find the chalk drawings more appealing than the paintings! I guess I'm firmly in the dry camp.

Great post Jeanette!

Jennifer Rose said...

Def. dry. I'm too impatient to use most wet media (use a hair dryer for watercolours and a heat gun for drying acrylics).

Easy to clean up most dry media, and don't get paint on the carpet.:p

Katherine Tyrrell said...

I prefer dry - but that's mainly a tactile thing and also because I do more if I work dry.

However I'm all for pushing art as art rather than art with a label. Let's hope people want to buy it because it's good and not because it fits with their media preferences! I think if art is good in any media than it will always attract interest.

Jeanette said...

I flip to wet occasionally, but my comfort zone is definitely dry. I think many artists experiment in many media but find their niche and settle into it.

A piece of art has time and effort put into by the artist, no matter what the medium. To have it implied that one medium is 'better' than another makes me a little crazy.

Why will an oil painting command more money than a drawing? Why is paint of any kind considered more accomplished than graphite?

Until art ceases to be seen as a luxury item affordable only by those with surplus cash, the myths around it may well go unchallenged.

Stacy said...

Jeanette, I like both camps. The majority of my work is in watercolors. I don't know if that is because I enjoy the challenge, or if it is because I started with them. But I also enjoy dry work - graphite, charcoal, colored pencil and occasionally P&I stippling.

It does bother me that watercolors do not receive the respect oil paintings do and that dry media can be considered even less than paints of any kind. I suppose it is up to artists to educate their consumers. Prhaps easier said than done.